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NYT: What the Libyan Resistance Needs

Author: Mahmoud Gebril Elwarfally
May 12, 2011

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In this New York Times Op-Ed, Mahmoud Gebril Elwarfally argues that the Libyan opposition needs financial support and diplomatic recognition to defeat Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

IN late February, as the Libyan opposition gained strength, the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi predicted there would be “rivers of blood” and “hundreds of thousands of dead” because of the uprising. At the time, little stood between him and this chilling threat. But thanks to decisive action from the United States and the international community, the pulse of freedom still beats strong in opposition-controlled areas of Libya.

Even while fighting for our lives, we have begun to put the building blocks in place for a free society. The interim government, the Transitional National Council, has managed to fight a war, keep the lights on and reopen the schools. The people of Benghazi, the base of our struggle, are participating in traffic control and trash collection, and creating newspapers and radio stations that reflect the new spirit of tolerance and freedom. Policies are debated passionately in open forums. All of this would have been unthinkable three months ago.

The council's 31 members — lawyers, human rights advocates, former military officers and business owners — come from all regions of Libya. Many, like me, were educated in the United States. In our march to freedom, we are strengthened by a belief in peace, justice and equality. The dark days of Colonel Qaddafi's rule have taught us that a free and democratic society based on a fair and transparent justice system is the only way forward. We will work to ensure that the peaceful transfer of power occurs through ballot boxes and legal institutions. The bedrock of our state will be a constitution written by the Libyan people and endorsed in a public referendum.

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